I wouldn't call Half-Life: Alyx a combat-heavy game, though the moments I spent ducking behind cover and trading fire with Combine soldiers were thrilling. But I spent just as much time exploring the world and dealing with holographic puzzles as I did taking on bad guys. And that's just fine with me. I was more interested in being fully immersed in the Half-Life universe again than playing yet another VR gun fantasy. And in that respect, the game delivers. You'll see familiar faces like Alyx's father, Eli Vance, plus other characters along the way. And while I won't say much about where the story goes, fans of the series will be pleased.
So, was the wait worth it? As someone who liked the Half-Life games, but never exactly worshipped them, Alyx feels like a solid entry in the series. For PC gamers, it's worth running out and grabbing the Oculus Quest or an inexpensive Windows Mixed Reality headset. But as much as I enjoyed the game on the $1,000 Index, with its wide field of view, sharp screens, and finger-tracking controllers, that VR setup is still too expensive for most gamers.
There are downsides to spending so much time in VR, too. While I could dive into a normal PC game for hours on end, I had to take a break every hour or so while playing Alyx to readjust my glasses, take a drink of water and rest my weary eyes. And while you can play the game while sitting down, I found it to be more immersive while standing in place, which adds even more fatigue to the whole experience.
Half-Life: Alyx doesn't just retread what we've seen in previous games, and it proves it's possible to make a lengthy, big-budget VR title. For the sake of the Valve faithful, I still hope we end up seeing a Half-Life sequel for the masses. But for VR fanatics, Half-Life: Alyx is exactly what they've been waiting for.